Does the RH law force Catholics to use contraceptives?

Atty. Jemy Gatdula wrote in his blog that the religious freedom argument would not work because religious freedom works via exemption:

Religious freedom arguments are by nature working on the idea of exemption. Take for example the Flag salute case of Ebranilag or the live-in arrangement in Estrada, what is sought is not to render the laws subject of those cases unconstitutional but to ask that an exemption from its application be made with regard to those religions adversely affected by it.

Hence, what a petitioner in a religious freedom argument is saying is not that the law is unjust but only in that the law is unjust insofar as it hinders in the free exercise of their religion.
Furthermore, it also leads to other, even more complicated, questions. Because, if for example an exemption is indeed granted, how then would such exemption be applied? In the Ebranilag and Estrada cases, detailed conditions were laid out by the Supreme Court that must be complied with. However, in the case of the RH Law, how can such exemptions be given when the law itself does not force Catholics to use contraceptives. And this within the context that a substantial majority of Catholics are in favor of contraceptives. If the religious freedom argument were used only in relation to government health workers, then the same could easily be cured by the use of the separability clause.
Pope Paul VI

Pope Paul VI

Response:

I am not a lawyer, so I have no expertise regarding the constitution and its interpretation.  Atty. Gatdula may have a point here regarding the constitutional weakness of the religious freedom argument.  But I shall only comment on two of his statements from a religious point of view:
1.  How can exemptions be given when the law itself does not force Catholics to use contraceptives?
2.  And this is within the context that a substantial majority of Catholics are in favor of contraceptives.
I shall discuss these issues individually.
1.  How can exemptions be given when the law itself does not force Catholics to use contraceptives?

An object, such as a rock, may be pushed in two ways.  One way is to push it with your bare hands.  The other way is to use a lever such as a stick.  Both have the same results: the rock is moved.

The RH law does not indeed force Catholics to use contraceptives.  But since the RH law uses the taxation power of the State to fund the law, and taxes are paid by Catholics who constitute more than 80 percent of the population, then Catholics effectively pay for the use of contraceptives by other people, even if these would be freely given by the State.

Now, the Catholic Church teaches that contraception is sinful.  This is an unchanging teaching of the Church.  Pope Paul VI wrote:

Unlawful Birth Control Methods

14. Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. (14) Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. (15)

Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means. (16)

Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong. (Humanae Vitae)

Pope Pius XI

Pope Pius XI

And before this, Pope Pius XI wrote:

56. Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.

57. We admonish, therefore, priests who hear confessions and others who have the care of souls, in virtue of Our supreme authority and in Our solicitude for the salvation of souls, not to allow the faithful entrusted to them to err regarding this most grave law of God; much more, that they keep themselves immune from such false opinions, in no way conniving in them. If any confessor or pastor of souls, which may God forbid, lead the faithful entrusted to him into these errors or should at least confirm them by approval or by guilty silence, let him be mindful of the fact that he must render a strict account to God, the Supreme Judge, for the betrayal of his sacred trust, and let him take to himself the words of Christ: “They are blind and leaders of the blind: and if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit.[46] (Casti Connubii)

Thus, if the State, through the RH Law, taxes Catholics to pay for purchase of contraceptives whose use is a grave sin, then the State forces Catholics to sin by being accomplice to sin.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines four ways in which a person becomes an accomplice to sin:

1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

– by participating directly and voluntarily in them;

– by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;

– by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;

– by protecting evil-doers.

Participating directly in the procurement of contraceptives by paying taxes that will fund the RH law is to be an accomplice to sin.  This is the first way, though our sin may be lessened or we may be dispensed from this if we are unwilling accomplices, because amortal sin requires three things: grave matter, full knowledge, and complete consent.

The third way is also relevant: if we Catholics do not disclose or hinder the passage of the RH Law when we have the obligation to do so, then we are guilty of being accomplices to the RH Law, and by doing so we sin.  This is the sin of omission.  “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” (attributed to Edmund Burke).  But if we lose the fight and the RH Law gets passed, then our conscience is clear even if we pay our taxes to the State who shall fund the RH Law: because we tried with all our might to hinder its passage, but was defeated.  As stated in the Serenity Prayer attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

2.  And this is within the context that a substantial majority of Catholics are in favor of contraceptives.

Individual Catholics do not define Church doctrine: it is the hierarchical Church who does so headed by the Pope.  Even if majority of Catholics are in favor of contraceptives, this does not change the fact that the use of contraceptives is a grave sin.  Thus, it is the duty of the Bishops of the Philippines to make sure that the RH Law would not be passed, in order to spare ordinary Catholics from sinning by being accomplices to sin.

Thus, it is impossible for the State to exempt Catholics from using contraceptives yet at the same time force Catholics to pay taxes that would be used to purchase contraceptives.  The better option is not to ratify the RH Law and make the State buy contraceptives in behalf of the people; rather, the State should only at most make the contraceptives available in the market as what we have now, and let individuals who need them buy them as their consciences allow.

UPDATE 7/21/2013

From Atty Jemy Gatdula:

hi dr. sugon. just to let you know i agree with both your points. the article was just to let law students, laymen see the difficulties in translating such points into a cohesive argument for the court. and, by the way, i belong to the only group of petitioners that actually used the tax argument and addressed all (hopefully) the concerns regarding such argument.

Response:

Hi Jemy,

Thanks for the clarification. It is only now that I read your group’s petition to the Supreme Court regarding the RH Law. In this petition, your group have shown that contraception is against Natural Law and that Natural Law is not just a Christian idea but dates back to the Ancient Greeks and which form the basis of modern jurisprudence. In the second part starting at article 120, you discussed how the government’s promotion of contraceptives is against religious freedom, because contraception is not just a discipline such as fasting, but a grave sin. And you used much more exhaustive references than I have shown in my blog post. You also showed that the implementation of the RH Law makes Catholics accomplices to sin through the payment of taxes. The third part starting at article 200 is more on how the RH Law is against the pro-family character of the Philippine constitution. I shall promote your petition in my blog and FB pages. Thank you very much.

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Resignation of Ateneo theology faculty Rafael Liacco-Dy: the Unclean Spirit is behind the RH Law

Rafael Liacco-Dy

I read in CBCP for Life that Rafael Liacco-Dy, a faculty in the Department of Theology of Ateneo de Manila University, has resigned because of the RH Law:

“The Holy Spirit’s will and that spirit’s will are never the same (cf. CCC 676). It rejects God’s truth (cf. John 8:45). Moreover, when one becomes allied to it, one becomes like it (cf. John 8:44), he said. “Thus here the saying also holds: ‘No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other’ (Matthew 6:24). Because of these realities, I believe that my service to the Church and my service to ADMU no longer coincide, and I believe that I can no longer share the path that ADMU has taken. Therefore I hereby resign both my teaching position and my tenure at ADMU Theology,” he said.

I only knew him as Raffy and our road crossed several times years ago. We sometimes chat along the way. But I never knew he is the same person named Rafael Liacco-Dy. His leaving Ateneo is really a sad news. May his leaving be not in vain. May it spur us to reflect on where Ateneo is heading as Ateneo is redefining its Mission and Identity. Will Ateneo professors continue to insist on a parallel Magisterium contrary to that of the Catholic Church, especially on the issue of contraception and the RH Bill, while at the same time claim Catholicity? According to his resignation letter, the debate on the RH law “has manifested at an unusually high level of ferocity, even hatred. It has manifested in the wholesale denigration of the Church – of her teachings, of her bishops, of her catechists, and of her common lay faithful.” Christ said:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.k16l By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.” (Mt 7:15-17)

If the debate on the RH law has resulted to Ateneans badmouthing the Catholic Church, then the Spirit behind the RH Law, which was mentioned by Rafael Liacco-Dy, is not the Holy Spirit. As St. Paul said:

“But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.n
19* Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness,o20idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions,p21 occasions of envy,* drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.22 In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,q23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Gal 5:18-23)

It is clear from this statement by St. Paul that the RH Law is primarily the works of the flesh and its consequences are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, selfishness, sexual orgies.  These are the consequences of the Unclean Spirit. What the Law should have done is to instill discipline to the citizens.  Instead, the RH law gave them more opportunities for immorality, such as safe sex of unmarried couples.  And even if it is between married couples, it is still not moral according to the teachings of the Church.  Sexual intercourse must be a symbol of the the total self-giving of the married couple, and that is why they should be both naked.  There should be nothing getting in the way of their union.  But why is man’s little part still dressed in condom? Or why is a woman covers her uterine walls with chemicals or her ovaries with IUD.  They are not completely naked.  They are withholding something back, and that is their gift of self to the other.

A dead fish goes with the current.  A living fish swims against it.  What the RH law effectively says is that if we can’t stop the young from fornicating and the married from having extramarital affairs, then we might just as well provide them with “protection from pregnancy,” as if pregnancy is a disease that must be protected against through “essential medicines” like contraceptives.  Actually, out-of-wedlock pregnancies are symptoms of the society’s moral disease which contraceptives wants to hide.  The contraceptive cure only worsens the moral disease.

Return of the Unclean Spirit

Let us recall the Parable of the Unclean Spirit.

“When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it roams through arid regions searching for rest but, finding none, it says, ‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’25But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order.26Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that person is worse than the first.” (Lk 11:24-26)

The Unclean Spirit behind the RH Bill is not the Holy Spirit behind the Gospel.  In the Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus in the 1962 Missal, the “from the spirit of uncleanness” is a translation of the Latin “a spiritu fornicationis” (p. 47).  It is a fitting translation, because fornication is the sexual intercourse between unmarried couples–the safe sex promoted by the RH Bill.  If you remove the Spirit behind the Gospels in Philippine Laws, it creates a spiritual vacuum that must be filled with another spirit–the Unclean Spirit behind the RH Bill.

The Catholic Church has already exorcised the Spirit of Uncleanness from the Philippines.  Just read Morga’s “Historical Events of the Philippines, 1609” which was annotated by Dr. Jose P. Rizal and you will learn about all the sexual fetishes of ancient Filipinos –they even prefer not a virgin during honeymoon and would in fact hire someone to have the first intercourse to break the hymen. Now, the RH Law has removed the Church’s influence in sexual morals through the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law, which should actually be named as the National Contraceptive Law.    If this Spirit sees that the Philippines is like a house in order–the Bishops saying against the RH law has been put in the sidelines and the government goes full gear in applying the RH law, then this Spirit would invite other spirits much worse than itself–the Spirits of DEATH, which the bishops identify as Divorce, Euthanasia, Abortion, Total Population Control (or Total Reproductive Health), and Homosexuality.  And the state of the Philippines would be much more worse than it was once in its pagan years.

Since the RH Law has been signed (clandestinely) by PNoy, we must fight this law through all legal means available.  We must educate the the people on the evils of the RH law and preach the Gospel once again. The bishops and priests must treat Filipinos as if they were the same pagans when the Spaniards first came.  This is the Year of Faith.  This is the Year for New Evangelization, the New Conquest of the Philippine Islands for the Catholic Faith.

In summary, Catholics can disobey the RH Law in good conscience and they should do so. Parents with children in schools should withdraw their children from sex education classes, as a non-violent resistance from the evil law.   A catechetical program for parents should be organized by bishops and priests.  The Sermons during the mass should have more doctrinal meat than just the “feel-good” homilies we hear.  The Catholic schools should be strengthened.  The living rosary should be promoted.  Pro RH law professors, government officials, and  public personalities who publicly promote the use of the contraceptive Pill should be given by their bishops the bitter pill of excommunication, and in doing so save the souls of little ones whose faith were shaken by the continued unchecked scandal in the Church.

Emperor Theodosius once went  to Bishop St. Ambrose, and repented of his sins for the massacre in Thessalonica.  As Theodosius said during the period of his excommunication to his servant:

“You are mocking me, Rufinus; you do not comprehend the nature of my trouble. I am lamenting my unhappy lot; the holy Church is open to slaves and beggars, but is shut to me; and heaven is closed to me, for I remember the words of our Lord which distinctly say, ‘Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven’.” (cristoraul)

Repentance of public officials such as that of the Roman Emperor happened before.  It can happen again today for Pres. Noynoy Aquino.  But the bishops must be firm.

Sex education, the public school system, and the La Salle brothers

St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle teaching little boys

St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle teaching little boys

The RH Bill has now passed the bicameral committee.  One of the provisions of the bill is the sex education for students 10 to 19 years of age.   The government cannot even provide decent math and science teachers for elementary and high school. Neither has the government  finalized its science and math curriculum for K-12.  So how can the government even begin to think on how to train these teachers for sex education?

How many teachers would the government hire to teach sex education at the age levels mentioned?  Will these teachers also require Licensure Examinations in sex education?  Would licentiousness be sufficient to become a teacher?  How about sexually well-experienced, especially in the use of condoms, pills, and IUD’s?  Will there be teaching demonstration experiments similar to those in physics?  Will the experiments be physical, e.g. hand to mouth or mouth to mouth, etc?  Will there be take home assignments and practice sessions with one’s brother or sister or with one’s neighbor? Will there be discriminations for other sexual orientations–lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transexuals?  Will there be demos for these groups as well?  What will be the audio-visual aids?  Will the students read articles or watch movies on how to have “safe and satisfying sex”?  I shudder at the thought.

Thinking about these things can already excite a man’s mind, even if he has been trying to live a life of prayer and virtue.  And how much more will these things excite the minds of the young who do not have enough spiritual defenses at their disposal and who would only rely on the guidance of their parents who are not even around when these things will be taught.  If sex education do not require the parent’s presence and guidance, we might just as well remove all the parental guidance notices in TV shows and movies.

Christ said:

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.7 Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!” (Mt 18:6-7)

May these words strike terror in the hearts of Pres. Noynoy Aquino and his cohorts who pushed the RH Bill to ratification.

I’ll mention these things in my January talk on Faith and Science in Bacolod. I may meet some teachers, religious, seminarians, and priests there.  We need to get the word out.  The hardest hit would be the public schools, because they cannot opt against this sex education.  One possibility is for parents to petition the public schools to scrap this sex education for their children.  The other option is for students walk out of the classes, and merit all the sanctions the school and the lawmakers can think of, such as not being able to graduate.  We need heroic witnessing and only the parish priest and the local bishop can lead here, because public school students and their parents are also part of the flock entrusted to them by Christ.

How about our parochial schools? I guess they cannot beat public schools in tuition, because one cannot compete against the government. We need educational reform for all dioceses in the Philippines. We need an educational system for the poor. This used to be the primary apostolate of the La Salle Brothers (known in other parts of the world as Brothers of the Christian Schools) worldwide: to teach little boys and girls practical skills to earn a living. The medium of instruction is not Latin but the local vernacular, such as French in St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle’s time.; the Jesuits, on the other hand, are originally primarily interested in training seminarians, so the emphasis of their educational system is more theology and more Latin, which would make seminarians better priests.

But the La Salle Brothers are also a dwindling religious order. They now rely most  of their teaching apostolate to the laity who needs to be paid full salaries in order to teach. Thus, tuition shoots up to high levels beyond the capacity of the poor, even if tuition is socialized. A single La Salle brother only needs to be fed and housed. He can work overtime without pay. And he can teach for free. Without an army of La Salle brothers, a diocese can never compete with the public schools in terms of tuition.  Without an army of La Salle brothers, the Catholic Church can never stop the growing malaise of sex education in public schools. We need to stop sex education in public and private schools!  We need an army of La Salle brothers!

The harvest is ripe but the laborers are few.  Let us pray that the Lord would send more La Salle brothers to labor in the public education system.

ANC: Three Ang Kapatiran Party senatorial bets file their candidacy

THE EDITED TRANSCRIPT:

KOKO: We’ll gonna go to Linda Homilla live at the Comelec. She is joined by more senatorial aspirants. Go ahead, Linda.

LINDA: Thanks, Koko. Well, we have here Mr. Lito David, Mr. JC de los Reyes, and Atty Marwil Llasos. Gentlemen, good afterrnoon. Thank you for joining us. Let me talk first to JC. Of course, a familiar face to our voters having run in 2010 presidential elections. How are you, JC.

JC: I am ok.

LINDA: What made you decide to run again.

JC: I was nominated by the party. I accepted. And my goal is to push the party platform and its principles.

LINDA: And of course Lito you also ran in 2010 as a senatorial candidate of JC.

LITO: I was asked again by the party. And I follow wishes of the party.

LINDA: And Atty. Llasos, you are a new comer to the party.

MARWIL: Yes, I am a political virgin. I am new to these things. That is why it is an experience for me.

LINDA: Of course, I am assuming that you will all have a central platform and legislation. And I’ll ask JC to be the spokesman.

JC: That’s what makes the Ang Kapatiran Party different. If there is someone who does not abide to the platform and principles, we remove him. Everybody will have to adhere to one symphony orchestra and one conductor. And that conductor is our platform. We are here to push the platform. Legislate the anti-political dynasty. Go all out against the pork barrel system. Those funds should be aligned to the priority projects of the smallest barangay. Then gun control that the Ang Kapatiran has been fighting for a long time. And fight for the FOI.

LINDA: I’ll ask you about the current issues. FOI—you are for FOI. How about the Cyber-Crime Law which is all the rage right now? Are you for it or amending it?

(JC gives the mike to Marwil)

MARWIL: Actually, yesterday I was interviewed in the radio. I said there are good provisions in the Cyber-Crime Provision Act. But there was inserted that is not good and this is fearsome because it is so repressive, for example the libel that was inserted in the Cyber-Crime Prevention Act. This is oppressive and is not proper to the democracy that must reign in our country. The Filipino people has no way out here. What gives me the reason to run for Senate in the coming elections, I saw that it is possible to insert a provision in the law that was not debated and the senators does not know. No public hearing. That is so contrary to the idea of parliamentary democracy: debate, discuss, and consult the Filipinos, especially the stakeholders in the law. So I see if that is how it is done, there is no hope for the people, it is time to change.

LINDA: Next issue: Reproductive health bill. There is a possibility that they may not pass it. There is a possibility that it may be carried over to the next Congress.

LITO: We will fight it out. In our party our stand is that it is not needed, because there are laws. And it is already in the mandate of the Department of Health the things that must be done for women, mothers, infants, and babies to be born. You do not need a new law if the intention is just money, because those who make condoms and contraceptives will have their life simpler. No more marketing is needed because the government will buy from them. And you know how much money one gets from those contraceptives and condoms? That one brand of condom how much they sold last year? 4 million pieces, 2 million pills, 1 million injectables, and 300,000 IUDs. That is big money. Especially if you put government money there. And the government will spend millions and millions for something that is not needed by our women.

LINDA: Alright. Thank you very much for your time gentlemen and we wish you luck in the coming campaign. Koko, Those are the candidates for Ang Kapatiran party.

KOKO: Thank you very much, stay tuned.

Devices of Death: Privileged speech of Cong. Karlo Nograles during the RH Bill hearing

From Mind Talk:

DEVICES OF DEATH

By: Cong. Karlo Alexei Nograles
Representative, Davao City, 1st District
(Privileged Speech delivered during the RH Bill Hearing, June 8, 2011)

Madam Speaker, Majority Leader, dear colleagues, good day.

I rise today on a subject that demands this august Chamber’s gravest concern: the dismal failure of a major government agency to discharge its mandated function in law to protect and promote the health of Filipino mothers, shield and protect motherhood from peril, and safeguard their maternal functions.The regulation of providers of drugs and medicines is reposed bylaw, R.A. No. 3720, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in the Food and Drug Administration or FDA, a regulatory agency under the Department of Health. It is mandated to ensure the safety, efficacy and good quality of all food and drug products being made available to the general public pursuant to Section 2 which provides: “It is hereby declared the policy of the State to insure safe and good quality supply of food, drug and cosmetic, and to regulate the production, sale, and traffic of the same to protect the health of the people.”

On April 19, 1992, the Consumer Act of the Philippines, R.A. No. 7394, went into effect. According to Article II, “It is the policy of the State to protect the interests of the consumer, promote his general welfare and to establish standards of conduct for business and industry. Towards this end, the State shall implement measures to achieve the following objectives: a) Protection against hazards to health and safety.”

After all, there is a clear and express constitutional mandate that: “The State shall protect consumers from trade malpractices and from substandard or hazardous products,” Article XVI, Section 9 of our Constitution.

Pursuant to Article VI of the Consumer Act, it is the Department of Health, through the Food and Drug Administration, that is responsible to the public with respect to drugs, devices and substances.

Section 4 of the Consumer Act defines “drugs” to mean articles recognized in the current official United States Pharmacopeia-National Formulary, official Homeophatic Pharmacopeia of the United States, official National Drug Formulary, or any supplement to any of them; and number two, articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease in man or other animals.

Among the drugs, Madam Speaker, that fall under this definition are the oral contraceptives administered to women and mothers, the injectible contraceptive Depo Provera and the so-called “morning-after pill”.

The same section defines a “device” as an instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, contrivance, implant, in vitro reagent, or other similar or related article, including any component, part or accessory which is recognized in the official United States Pharmacopeia National Formulary or any supplement to them; two, intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other condition or in the cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease in man or other animals.

Among the devices administered to women and mothers as contraceptives are the Intra-Uterine Device or IUD, and in recent times, the suction device known as the Manual Vacuum Aspirator or MVA.Both are allowed to be used and actually form part of the family planning devices used by the Department of Health.

We shall now see, Madam Speaker, in what manner these contraceptive drugs, substances and devices are supposed to cure, mitigate, treat or prevent disease in women and mothers.

First, the oral contraceptives. The so-called high-dose contraceptive pills bring about changes in the environment of the endometrium, that is the uterine lining of the woman, making implantation more difficult. When the high-dose pill functions via this last mechanism, it is an abortifacient if the woman experienced a “breakthrough” ovulation.

These pills have, for the most part, been pulled from the United States market due to their dangerous side effects. Naturally, they are still dumped relentlessly on poor women in developing countries.

The low-dose biphasic and triphasic pills on the other hand function in essentially the same manner as the high-dose pill. However, a much higher percentage of ovulation occurs in women who use the low-dose pills. This means that women who use these pills frequently conceive,and that low-dose pills prevent implantation of the new human individual, thereby acting more often as true abortifacients.

The Mini-Combination Pill functions by inhibiting ovulation and causing changes in the cervical mucus. However, their primary mode of operation is abortifacient, because they prevent implantation by causing changes in the endometrium.

Then, of course, there is the Mini-Pill. The primary mechanism of these pills have not been pinpointed, although women who use them almost always ovulate. Therefore, these pills function primarily as abortifacients.It is known that pills which contain only progestin alter the cervical mucus. They also interfere with implantation by affecting the endometrium and suppressing ovulation in some patients by reducing the presence of follicle-stimulating hormone(FSH).

This mechanism, Madam Speaker, is confirmed by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which stated that “Progestin-only contraceptives are known to alter the cervical mucus, exert a progestinal effect on the endometrium, interfering with implantation, and, in some patients, suppress ovulation.”

The manufacturers of the minipills also acknowledge this mode of action. For example, Syntex Laboratory spokesman, Rush Wilks, announced that “its progestin-only pill “… did not interfere with ovulation… It seems to affect the endometrium so that a fertilized egg cannot be implanted.”

In other words, Madam Speaker, the pill is now truly “birth control” not conception control, as was originally intended.

According to United States Federal courts, the birth control pill has been classified as “unavoidably unsafe.” This means that, implicit in a woman’s consent to use the pill, even if she is not entirely informed of its dangers, is an acknowledgment of physical risk.

This legal classification means that women damaged by the pill have a much harder time recovering damages. Dr. John Hildebrand, an expert in the field, estimates that more than 500 women die every year because of pill-induced effects. This startling number is confirmed by figures provided by the Alan Guttmacher Institute and one of the foremost abortionists in the United States, Warren Hern.

It is ironic, Madam Speaker, that the same pill pushed so hard as part of the supposed solution to “excessive illegal abortion deaths” now kills five times as many women per year as illegal abortions themselves did before Roe v Wade.

The most dangerous and well-documented side effects commonly associated with the pill are heart attacks and strokes. The eight-year Nurse’s Health Study at Harvard Medical School found that pill users are 250% as likely to have heart attacks and strokes than those who do not use the pill because the pill excessively increases blood clotting ability.

Now, let us talk about breast cancer. The Fertility and Maternal Health Drugs Advisory Committee is a panel of medical experts that meet to advise the commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration.

The committee evaluated a study by Dr. Clifford R. Kay of the Royal College of General Practitioners of Manchester, England. Kay studied 46,000 women,half of which were pill users and half of which were non-users. He found that pill users were more than three times more likely to develop breast cancer than non-users between the ages of 30 and 34.

A second study by researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine, the University of Pennsylvania and New York’s Memorial Sloan- KetteringCancer Center completed in 1988, showed that the longer women took the pill, the greater their chances of contracting breast cancer. The risk of developing breast cancer was found to be twice as great by age 45 for women who had used the pill for less than 10 years and four times as great for women who had used the pill for more than 10 years.

Now, another type of drug, Madam Speaker, is themorning-after pill or emergency contraception. Postinor Levonorgestrel believed to act to prevent ovulation, fertilization and implantation. This was approved for sale and distribution in the Philippines by the Bureau of Food and Drugs as an emergency contraceptive. By reason of its abortifacient action, Abay Pamilya Foundation asked the Department of Health on May 8, 2001 to cancel its product registration.The public hearings conducted by the DOH revealed the following uncontroverted data about the morning-after pill, Postinor:

1. Levonorgestrel has a high pre-implantation emergency abortifacient action. According to authorities cited by the petitioners in DOH and based on learned medical treatises, the Levonorgestrel approach clearly has an anti-developmental impact on the endometrium of the woman.Work by Kubba, et. al.(1986), specifically referred to Levonorgestrel noting itsability to change the nature of the hormonal receptors within the endometrium.

Dr. Rabone (1990), reported that Levonorgestrel caused a reduction on the number of estrogen and progesterone receptors within the endometrium. The concentration of these receptors is critical for the normal development of endometrium to a stage that will support implantation.

Simon and co-workers have also reported that altered estradiol/ progesterone ratios or E2/P which will occur with high doses of Levonorgestrel are associated with the impairment of endometrial receptivity.

2. Inhibition of implantation. The administration of relatively large doses of estrogen or “morning-after” pills for several days beginning shortly after unprotected sexual intercourse usually does not prevent fertilization but often prevents implantation of the blastocyst. Postconception administration of hormones prevent implantation of the blastocyst and is sometimes use in cases of sexual assault or leakage of acondom.

3. The abortifacient action of Levonorgestrel was not denied by its Philippine importer. The drugs inserts submitted by the importer-distributor, Euro-Generics International, Philippines, reads: Clinical Pharmacology, Levonorgestrel is believed to act to prevent ovulation,fertilization and prevent implantation.

4. Gedeon Ritcher Ltd., the drugs manufacturer, was aware of the moral and ethical implications of Levonorgestrel. The 2001 petition in the DOH, citing Thaler Gy, stated, “Gy. Thaler of Gedeon Richter, Limited, the manufacturer of Postinor (Levonorgestrel 0.75 milligrams), has unwittingly acknowledged the seriousness of this debate by noting that the promotion and use of the morning-after pill involves ethical and moral questions.”

Thus, the morning-after pill, Levonorgestrel, whether marketed as Postinor or some other brand, and any estrogen or progesterone with an abortifacient action is not registrable under Philippine law.

However, Madam Speaker, Levonorgestrel Mirena, as an IUD or intra- uterine device, can be ordered by an OB-gynecologist through the medrep. And Levonorgestrel is also available in several other names here in the Philippines, namely: Logynon, Nordet, Charlize, the Trust pill and Lady.These are all available in your local drugstore.

Now, Republic Act No. 5921, or an Act Regulating the Practice of Pharmacy and Setting Standards of Pharmaceutical Education in the Philippines, provides in Section 37 that “No drug or chemical product or device capable of provoking abortion or preventing conception as classified by the Food and Drug Administration shall be delivered or sold to any person without a proper prescription by a duly licensed physician.”

The reality, however, the reality, however, Madam Speaker, is this—contraceptive pills can be purchased by any person regardless of age, sex or civil status over the counter. I have personal experience purchasing contraceptive pills myself without prescription, Madam Speaker, when I purchased several birth control pills on May 25, 2011 and again on June 2, 2011 just to prove how easy it is to purchase these pills.

More dangerously, Madam Speaker, in the May 30, 2011 Senate committee hearing, last week, that discussed three Senate bills protecting the unborn, former DOH Secretary Alberto Romualdez stated, under oath, that contraceptive pills can also be ingested as emergency contraception by altering the dosage. Let me just say this, Madam Speaker, birth control pills, purchased very easily without prescription, can be used for abortion by just doubling the dosage for a period of five days.

Let me go to another drug, the Depo-Provera injectible. Depo-Provera was banned as a contraceptive in the US in 1978. While this is so, it is endorsed by agencies such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the World Health Organization for use in the Third World. But our Consumer Act, our Consumer Act states in Article XXXIII that “Banned or severely restricted drugs for health and safety reasons in their country of origin shall be banned and confiscated, or its uses severely restricted, whichever is appropriate, by the Department. The Department shall monitor the presence in the market of such drugs and cause the maintenance and regular publications of an updated consolidated list thereof.”

Madam Speaker, Depo-Provera is imported, available and administered widely in the Philippines.

But warnings on its safety are not unknown to the Department of Health: Loss of bone mineral density, thromboembolic disorders, cancer risks, ectopic pregnancy, anaphylaxis and anaphylactod reaction, convulsions, bleeding irregularities, excessive weight gain, fluid retention—these are among the drug’s dangerous effects. Banned in the United States, Depo-Provera can be purchased in your favorite drugstore for P117.00. And it goes by the names, Depotrust, Lyndavel, and Provestin.

Apart from the drugs, let’s now talk about devices; namely, the intrauterine device and the manual vacuum aspirator.

First, the IUD. What is an intrauterine device? The intrauterine device is a foreign body made of a non-reactive plastic such as polyehtylene inserted in the uterus of the woman to prevent implantation of the developing human being. Some IUDs include active chemicals such as progesterone or copper which slowly diffuse into the uterus for an enhanced abortifacient effect. How do IUDs work?The different IUDs have different modes of action.They prevent sperm from fertilizing ova, release ions, primarily copper, that interfere with fertilization.They thicken the cervical mucus and inhibits sperm capabilities. These are all contraceptive effects. But IUDs also irritate the endometrium or the lining of the uterus of the woman and make it inhospitable for the blastocyst or the very early developing human being. Thus, an abortifacient effect. There is some disagreement among medical authorities over the contraceptive effects of IUDs, but these experts do agree that IUDs prevent implantation.

The American Medical Association’s Committee on Human Reproduction has said that, “The action of IUDs would seem to be a simple local phenomenon. That these devices prevent implantation of an already fertilized ovum has been accepted as the most likely mechanism of action.”The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, which studies birth control methods before releasing them to the market, has observed that “IUDs seem to interfere in some manner with the implantation of the fertilized egg in the lining of the uterine cavity. The IUD does not prevent ovulation.”

The other device as I mentioned, is the manual vacuum aspirator,known more popularly as the MVA. This is a device for uterine evacuation.Meaning, suction of the contents of the womb. The MVA uses an aspirator with a cylinder, a plunger, and a bulb attached to the cannula with one or two apertures. According to literature describing and marketing the device, the indications for uterine aspiration using this device are : number 1, endometrial biopsy; number 2, treatment of incomplete abortion; and number 3, Madam Speaker, first-trimester abortion.

If the device is an instrument to procure an abortion, then it falls under the definition of an imminently hazardous product defined in Section 4 of the Consumer Act Section 4 of the Consumer Act, to wit, and I quote: “Imminently hazardous product means a consumer product which presents an unreasonable risk of death, serious illness or severe personal injury.”

A device of death, the MVA is purchased by local DOH agencies in some local government units.

In a case study in the Philippines entitled: Planning for a Sustainable Supply of Manual Vacuum Aspiration Instruments, a Guide for Program Managers, it appears that in this country, the key partners in the importation and use on the abortive device MVA are the DOH, Pangasinan Province, the NGO EngenderHealth, the local commercial distributor, the Packcard Foundation, and U.L.S. A.I.D. The local direct contractor of the MVA in the Philippines is BDM Enterprises.

I therefore ask, Madam Speaker, do these oral contraceptives, the morning-after pill, depo-provera, the IUD and the manual vacuum aspirator, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent disease? Are they safe for women and mothers?

Madam Speaker, no government can bargain away the public health. The people themselves cannot do it, much less their servants. And as public officers, our health officials can only execute the law, not disobey it. How can our government officers, whose sworn duty is to protect and preserve the health of our countrymen, allow such hazardous drugs and devices, abortifacients and carcinogens to be openly sold and distributed in our country?

I therefore call on this House to initiate an immediate investigation on the serious failure of our health agencies in exercising its strict mandate to defend and safeguard the health of Filipinos, particularly our women, in accordance with the letter, spirit and intent of our laws.

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Thank you, dear colleague.

Reproductive Health Bill debate: can a good Catholic remain good amidst a thousand condoms and pills?

Pro RH Bill Argument:

“If a Catholic member has a morally-formed conscience with regards to these issues, a thousand free condoms and contraceptive pills being dangled before him WON’T tempt him to make use of them. It is as simple as that for me. An analogy has been offered by my daughter: Why did God allow the existence of the Forbidden Tree in the Garden in the first place? Why did He only command Adam and Eve: “do not eat” of its fruit yet gave them free access and freedom to exercise their free will? God could just have very well  PHYSICALLY prevented both of them easy access to it or installed formidable baricades around it.

Response:

A green leaf placed near a fire, can only resist the heat up to a certain point (when most of the leaf’s water content turns to vapor). Then the green leaf catches fire.  A strong rock cliff facing the sea can withstand a strong wave or two.  But after years of bombardment (we call this weathering), the rock cliff gets chipped here and there, then the cracks become bigger, until the rock splits into fragments.  In the same way, if you flood a well-formed Catholic with condoms, he can resist the first assaults.  But when the condoms become a common sight, and he sees little boys and girls blow them as balloons,  he sees demonstrations in TV how to use condoms, he finds condoms available in toilets for Php 5, and everywhere he goes he sees couples copulate in in broad daylight, will the good Catholic still resist? And what if the woman that he likes approaches him, gives him a box of condoms as Valentine’s gift, kisses him, and takes off her clothes?  If you are St. Francis, you shall jump into thorns.  If St. Benedict, into snow.  If St. Aquinas–you’ll grab a firebrand and chase the temptation away.  But what if you are just an ordinary Catholic who goes to mass only during Easter andChristmas, and whose last Confession was 10 years ago, can you still resist?

Before his Fall, Adam has perfect control over his passions.  This is called Original Justice.  His nakedness and Eve’s nakedness does not incite malicious thoughts on him.  When God placed the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the middle of the Garden of Eden, Adam can perfectly control his desire for the fruit, so this is not a test of desire but of obedience.  There is no need to put walls and barriers, because this is a test of free will to obey God, in order to merit eternal life for him, for Eve, and for us their descendants.  When Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he disobeyed God and this is Original Sin.  As one of the consequences, Adam lost his perfect control over his passions and desires (c.f. concupiscence).   So God knows that even if He forbade Adam to eat the fruit of the Tree of Life, Adam will sooner or later eat the fruit. To prevent this from happening, God banishedAdam and Eve from the Garden and placed an angel to guard the gates of paradise.  From this analysis, we see that since we are descendants of Adam and Eve who lost our perfect control over our passions and desires, despite having our Original Sin washed away by the waters of Baptism, then putting a temptation before us like free condoms would have a chance that we fall to the temptation.  So the best way is to follow a way similar to  what God did by putting a barrier between the condom and the man, by not making condoms more available, by stopping the passage of the RH bill.